Flex Your NO Muscle

You got this. You nailed your schedule for the day. You had a day with some meetings, but left yourself enough time to prep and organize your notes and follow up. You scheduled time to work on a task, moving a larger project forward. You even made time to EAT. You’re crushing it. It’s 4:30 PM and you’re on track to walk out the door at 5:30 PM, which, in your commuting time, gets you home at 6:30 PM, just squeaking in the door in time for dinner with your family. A victory!


Uh oh. It’s an email from your boss. Can you meet with him to go over blah bidy blah, something that can totally wait but that they want to tick off their list, at 5PM? You know what that means: wave buh bye to your 5:30 PM departure, say hello to a 6, even 6:30 PM departure.

You say yes.

But you’re mad about it. And guess what? The disappointment that rolls from you, also hits your partner and your kids who are so excited you’re coming home “early” / on time for dinner. Now everyone’s sad and mad, and you’re now taking that on, in addition to your own disappointment that “the best laid plans…”

Sound familiar?

Of course all this leads to further resentment, which is not good at work, and it’s certainly not good at home. Resentment only grows, and can do serious long-term damage to your most important non-replaceables: your relationships.

So what to do on the go forward. I know that saying “No” and setting a limit around your time can be scary, and I also completely get that sometimes it’s impossible and even inappropriate. But so many times, loads and loads of time, you’re saying yes when you need to say no. In this example, a simple, “I can’t meet at that time, but can meet with you at x time or y time tomorrow morning, z time in the afternoon. Which slot works best for you so I can block the time” would have done the trick.

Of course sometimes the best defense is a good offense, meaning PLAN AHEAD.  Being clear and overt with key players (read: your boss, your admin) about your schedule for your day, including your end of day target time, manages expectations, and can often avoid the conflict altogether.

It helps also to recognize and understand patterns. Remember, the only person you can control is yourself. It’s annoying how we can’t change others, but given that’s reality, taking proactive actions–even tiny ones–with people who tend to surprise you with “urgent” items late in the day can make a big impact. For example, making a point of checking in with your boss about 90 minutes ahead of the end of the day about wrap up items, can cut the limit-setting conflict entirely off at the pass.

Actions like these can be a game changer for people. But it’s also super scary and can cause the guilt and self-doubt (and more) to flood in. And it’s these barriers that prevent us from stepping into powerful flexing our “NO”.

Listen, I completely understand about guilt and pressure. And fear. Truly. I know how scary it can be to say “No” when you’re so used to saying “yes.” How to do deal with the ensuing emotions is a different post, but for now, I always think about how my grandmother always said, “People don’t like it the first time you say no, but they get used to it.”

How do I know? I learned myself how to say “No” when I was used to always saying “Yes.” In fact, empowering women is my passion, and I have taught hundreds of women to do the same, while maintaining their relationships and jobs. Check out my upcoming FREE workshop where you can learn more. I hope that’s an offer you can enthusiastically say “Yes” to!

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